2004 Student Research Conference:
17th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Language and Age
Heather Ryan*, Shannon M. Clarkin, and Anne Schonhardt
Dr. Mary Shapiro, Faculty Mentor

Previous, limited linguistic research on age (e.g., Cheshire (1987), Eckert (1997)) has focused exclusively on youth, assuming differences in age-related speech are due to language change. Social-psychological research into elderly communication (e.g., Hummert (1994), Coupland & Coupland (1995)) has not established age-related linguistic variables. This study asked five elderly and eight college-aged speakers in age-homogeneous groups to discuss whether they were the same “generation.” They were then mixed and compared views. Each 15-minute conversation was video- and audio-taped, then transcribed. "Fillers," substitution of alveolar /n/ in progressive verbs ("-ing" forms), and phonological reduction of "and" were analyzed quantitatively for shifts in behavior. Pronoun reference and issues of self-disclosure (Coupland et al. (1988)) were examined qualitatively. Although this study was limited (e.g., senior gender imbalance, differing quantities of subjects and subject speaking times, and small number of subjects), it provides a springboard for future empirical research into age differences in speech.

Keywords: Language, Age, Linguistics, Communication, Elderly speech

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 8-3
Location: VH 1320
Time: 9:00

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